Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON — The American Council on Education has asked Congress to renew expiring education tax credits past the end of 2012 after some provisions were excluded from a bipartisan bill extending tax credits that expired this year. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, as well as the student loan interest deduction and tax breaks for employer-provided education benefits, are set to expire at the end of 2012, and all were left out of a bill extending other tax breaks for higher education. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, a benefit originally included in the economic stimulus bill that provides up to $2,500 in partially refundable tax credits for tuition, appears to be the most at risk, with some Republicans in both the House and Senate opposing its expansion.

The tax credit is likely to figure in an end-of-year battle over taxes and spending as the prospect of sequestration, or mandatory spending cuts, looms and the Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire. "It is essential that these tax provisions be extended this year to help make higher education accessible for millions of Americans and to ensure our nation will have the educated citizenry the future requires," Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the council, wrote in a letter co-signed by 11 higher education associations. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 4:25am

A new survey by the National Consumer Law Center seeks to focus on the characteristics of students who default on their loans. Among the findings:

  • 80 percent are unemployed.
  • 85 percent receive public assistance.
  • Nearly 65 percent attended one or more for­-profit institutions.
  • Only 47 percent completed their education.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Most for-profits operating in California have been deemed ineligible to participate in Cal Grants, the state's generous need-based financial aid program. The California Student Aid Commission on Tuesday released a list of 154 ineligible institutions or branch campuses, 137 of which are for-profits, including the University of Phoenix. The rest are mostly small, private religious institutions. The program's rules were tightened to save money amid California's budget crisis, and were drafted in such a way that they were aimed specifically at for-profits. For example, they apply only to colleges where more than 40 percent of students take out loans. That effectively exempts community colleges, which don't charge enough in tuition for federal loans to be a major issue.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Gert Lanckriet of the University of California at San Diego explains efforts to create a search engine for music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

An article in Education Week highlights the practice of some big-time university athletics programs recruiting middle school athletes. Recruits can't commit to a university until the fall of senior year, but the article noted the view that those teams that make offers early -- years before one could commit -- may have an edge in the eventual decision. Many high school coaches object to the practice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

A 16-year-old has admitted to taking entry exams under the names of others seeking to get into Piedmont Technical College, in South Carolina, WYFF4 News reported. The youth was paid $150 per test. In addition, authorities said that they believed a proctor had been helping students pass entry exams so they could become eligible for Pell Grants. The proctor was fired last year. The college asked federal officials to investigate at that time, having found what it considered irregularities in its use of Pell Grants.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Students estimate they spend $655 annually on required course materials, down from $667 two years ago and $702 four years ago, according to a study released by the National Association of College Stores. Officials attributed the decline to the wider availability of options like renting textbooks.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:19am

John Pike, the police officer who used pepper spray last year on students who were protesting peacefully at the University of California at Davis, is no longer employed by the university, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. He was suspended with pay after the incident. A Davis spokesman confirmed that Pike's last day of employment was July 31, but declined to comment further. Pike could not be reached for comment.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

The football and men’s basketball teams at the University of Central Florida will have to sit out the upcoming postseason, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday, as the Committee on Infractions cited the university for lacking institutional control and failing to monitor its sports program, by allowing impermissible recruiting activities and extra benefits for athletes. The NCAA's decision comes just two years after the association punished Central Florida for recruiting violations by former athletics officials.

At issue was “an ever-increasing problem in intercollegiate athletics today,” the committee said in its public infractions report. Third parties, “who through their activity became athletics representatives of UCF,” had significant unallowable telephone and in-person recruiting contact with men’s basketball and football athletes, the committee said. Further, one representative provided prospects and current athletes with $16,000 in cash payments, travel expenses, tuition and a laptop computer. The committee also found unethical conduct on the part of the former athletics director and assistant football coach, who “knowingly provided false and misleading information” in interviews with NCAA enforcement officials. Athletic department employees not only knew about the recruiting violations, the committee said – “in some cases” they “encouraged” it. The same third parties also received benefits and favors from the program, including event tickets. The failure to monitor charge stems from the men’s basketball coach’s neglect to stop or discourage and report the violations.

The NCAA’s penalties add to a number of self-imposed sanctions, including vacation of men’s basketball wins from 2008-9, and a reduction in recruiting days and official paid visits. Other sanctions include a $50,000 fine, five years’ probation, scholarship reductions in football and men’s basketball, and three-year show-cause orders for the former athletics director and two coaches, meaning that if they move to another institution the penalties will follow them there unless the college can show the NCAA why they shouldn’t apply.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:25am

In the wake of a federal investigation, Xavier University in Ohio has agreed to reform its procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and assault, Cincinnati.com reported. The investigation was prompted by complaints from two female students who said that a male student was twice allowed to stay on campus after being found responsible for sexual assaults. Another student charged that Xavier did not treat her fairly when she filed a complaint about sexual harassment and stalking.



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